A Fresh Take on Songs

You know how a different translation of scripture can bring a whole new meaning to light?

Here’s how you can do this with songs.

Now that I’ve been living and leading worship in Costa Rica for over two years, I’ve learned about forty songs in Spanish that were originally in English. Like any Greek scholar cringing or shouting to an empty room when seeing a translation that deeply misses something, I have at times criticized a translation of a song.

Like the song Promises. One line says, “and let my heart learn when You speak a word, it will come to pass.” The translation says, “y aprenderá este corazón a confiar el Él,” which is “and this heart will learn to trust in Him.”

Like any translation, you have to make concessions. Transliterations don’t often work, especially when you have metaphors or colloquialisms. 

Like Gateway Worship’s song that says “You are always up to something good” that gets translated “You always do everything right.” The colloquial phrase “you’re up to something” has a certain feel that is missed when you say “you do it right.”

But here’s what I want you to do.

  1. Take the songs you’re doing this week and search for translations of them. (You can google the song title followed by español.)
  2. Copy the text and paste it into google’s translation tool, from Spanish back to English.
  3. Voila, you have a slight twist, fresh perspective, new wording. It might help you set the song up in a new way. It might inform your interpretation of the song.

Here are some examples of my favorites.

Raise A Hallelujah

Original: I raise a hallelujah in the middle of the mystery

Spanish: Levanto un aleluya, sin saber lo que está por venir

Literally: I raise a hallelujah without knowing what’s to come

Build My Life

Original: Worthy of every song we could ever sing. Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring.

Spanish: Digno de recibir toda adoración. Digno de recibir hoy esta canción

Literally: Worthy of all worship. Worthy of receiving this song today.

Graves Into Gardens

Original: I’m not afraid to show You my weakness

Spanish: Vengo a ti sin miedo y sin reservas

Literally: I come to You without fear and without reservation

I Give You My Heart

Original: Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake, Lord, have Your way in me.

Spanish: En cada palpitar, mientras haya aliento en mi, Dios haz tu obra en mi.

Literally: In every heartbeat, as long as there is breath in me, God do your work in me.

King Of My Heart

Original: The anchor in the waves, oh, He is my song

Spanish: Mi ancla firme y fiel - Él es mi canción

Literally: My firm and faithful anchor - He is my song

Mighty To Save

Original: So take me as You find me, all my fears and failures, fill my life again.

Spanish: Aún en mis temores sé que me aceptas. Lléname otra vez.

Literally: Even in my fears, I know that you accept me. Fill me up again.

No Longer Slaves

Original: (song) Of deliverance, from my enemies, till all my fears are gone

Spanish: Cantas libertad en mi adversidad hasta que huya el temor

Literally: You sing freedom in my adversity until fear runs away

This I Believe

Original: Descended into darkness, You rose in glorious life, forever seated high

Spanish: Bajaste a las tinieblas y en gloria y poder Te levantaste

Literally: You came down into the darkness, and in glory and power You got up

What A Beautiful Name

Original: You didn’t want heaven without us

Spanish: Dejaste el cielo por salvarme

Literally: You left heaven to save me

(This was for those of you who never liked that line…LOL)

Yes I Will

Original: For all my days, oh yes, I will

Spanish: Con fervor, sí lo haré

Literally: With fervor, yes, I will

So have fun with this!